By Megan Salzano-Birch—Las Vegas— Coverings 2022 was a showcase in innovative product design and immersive technology, which is thriving within the ceramic and stone category today despite obvious obstacles. It is no doubt the incomparable styling that was on display at this year’s show that will drive the growth that is expected for the category in the coming year. The show itself, while slightly lagging behind in attendance compared to pre-pandemic years, was awash with flooring suppliers, dealers, distributors, designers and architects who were excited to get back to business and meet their partners and peers face-to-face to build business in 2022.
“The attendees and the exhibitors—and the world in general—are getting back to business, and face-to-face is really important in that engagement,” Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, the event planning company for Coverings, told FCNews. “I think people are excited to finally be out and about and able to get things done. You can really feel an energy and a vibe here—people are just happy to be back and talking about their lives and talk- ing about business and doing business. And we’re happy to facilitate that.”
Coverings 2022 saw 750 exhibitors and more than 30 countries represented on the show floor. Exhibitors at the show also said the energy was high and attendees were ready to network and get down to business. “We’ve had great traffic at the show,” said Micah Hand, director of market- ing and product management, Florida Tile. “I think everybody’s got some positivity, just excited to be designing, to be developing, to be meeting with their customers, to get to see new products. And we’re excited to introduce a handful of new lines here [at Coverings] this year. We’ve had a lot of great feedback from our customers here. They’re excited to see us.”
Lindsey Waldrep, vice president of marketing, Crossville, added, “I think there’s a feeling of great stability, which is interest- ing because nothing’s stable in the world right now. But at the same time, I feel like everyone’s grounded down with a little bit of gravitas. We’re here to do business—even though it’s Vegas and we all love a good party. I get this feeling that it’s been a while since we’ve seen one another, but we’re here to do business. Let’s make it happen.”
Ceramic market update
During the show, Eric Astrachan, executive director, Tile Council of North America (TCNA), gave a full report on the U.S. ceramic tile market. According to the report, U.S. ceramic tile consumption in 2021 was 3.11 billion square feet, up nearly 10% from the previous year. This marks the first increase since 2018, Astrachan said, and “close but just shy of the highest we’ve ever been, which was around 2007.” According to Astrachan, the activity was supported by robust economic growth overall as well as gains in the U.S. construction and housing markets. For example, in the residential market, new home starts rose for the 12th consecutive year and were at their highest point since 2006. The 1.60 million units started in 2021 represented a 16% increase from the previous year.
When it comes to imports, ceramic tile in 2021 reached its highest level in 15 years, Astrachan reported. “There was 2.23 billion square feet of import- ed tile that came in, which is a 13.6% increase from 2020,” he said. “Imports comprised 71.7% of U.S. tile consumption by volume in 2021, which is up 69.4%.”
By value, 2021 was $2.5 billion, which is up 25% versus the previous year. “We are in uncharted territory,” Astrachan said. “This has really never happened before. What you’re seeing is a combination of a 13.6% increase in volume and a 10% increase in price and that gets you to the 25%. We believe we are going to continue to see that because of all the supply disruption issues and freight costs, which are factored into this.”
Astrachan went on to note the current issues affecting imports: Freight costs, container shortages, gas prices and sup- ply challenges in Europe. “Gas prices is a significant challenge for European tile producers, which they consider a crisis,” he explained. “The good news is it’s driving a lot of discussion and new technology around clean hydrogen, clean gas and electric kilns.”
He added, “All this means it’s the best possible time to build tile factories in North America. North American companies are looking at expansion plans, and Portobello has already broken ground and is building a new factory in the U.S. We certainly hope this leads to more tile factories in North America.”
What’s trending: In & Out
Coverings 2022 was shaped around three tenants: “Wellness & Environment,” “Timeless Luxury” and “Outdoor Living Spaces.” And exhibitors did not disappoint in their representation of these ideals.
Tile trends seen at Coverings 2022 were also no doubt influenced in numerous ways by the pandemic. First and foremost is the ongoing growth of indoor/outdoor tile. “We’ve made use of our outdoor spaces and COVID-19 made us do that,” said Tamica Martin, strategic marketing manager, Florim USA, parent company of the MILEstone USA brand. “I think we realized that we can enjoy all of our spaces a lot more. And I think you see consumers wanting to really make both their indoor and outdoor space their comfortable space.”
MILEstone USA, which manufacturers its sustainable collections in the U.S., unveiled Lith at the show, a new indoor/outdoor collection. The collection is avail- able in three colors, surfaces and sizes. “Lith is really embracing that duality and is meant to offer a seamless transition in to out,” Martin said. MILEstone also unveiled its second carbon neutral collection, Native.
Crossville also focused on the indoor/outdoor trend with the addition of its exterior finish on two new collections. The finish allows traditional indoor lines to become suitable for exteriors without any change to the visual design. “You can’t see the difference,” Waldrep explained. “If you touch your fingers lightly, you can feel the difference, but you can’t see it.”
Waldrep added that the use of outdoor spaces will most likely expand. “We’ve always known—whether it was during the Spanish Flu or tuberculosis outbreak—fresh air is the best thing possible for health. And that is continuing. I think we may end up seeing a retraction of square footage on the inside [of the home], but the same lot size outside—people will be expanding more through their patios and exteriors or up on their rooftops whenever possible rather than the indoor space. There’s a potential for your garden rooms to be your new status symbol.”
For MSI, the indoor/outdoor trend has been a priority for some time now, but the company has officially launched—along with several product lines—a new display designed to help the dealer make that indoor/outdoor sale at Coverings 2022. “We have designed an entire display around helping the retailer tell the indoor/outdoor story, because we have found it’s very difficult,” said Jason Andrews, director of national sales accounts.
While Coverings is a tile show, MSI also highlighted its newest category offerings: Hybrid Rigid Core and Waterproof Wood. “This is a hybrid where we’ve borrowed technology from an LVT and really from a laminate and kind of meshed them together,” Andrews explained. “But laminate usually needs an installation system with sealants to make it waterproof. Here, we’ve created a 100% out-of-the-box waterproof system.”
When it comes to the Waterproof Wood category, Andrews explained that the company used SPC technology combined with real wood. “There is that homeowner who is a wood enthusiast and they only want the real thing, but there is also the idea that when a consumer walks into a retail store, [they think] everything is waterproof,” he said. “The technology exists for us to get waterproof wood. Essentially, this is LVT but with the natural beauty [of wood]. It is going to install and function and operate exactly like LVT, but it’s the real thing.”
What’s trending: Opulence
A return to opulence was seen in extravagance at Coverings 2022. Whether it was through grandiose, large-format styles or elevated lavish looks like classic marble, Coverings hit it on the nose when it predicted “Timeless Luxury.”
Del Conca USA, for example, unveiled its Essential collection, a large-format tile in sizes 12 x 48 and 12 x 24. The line, which is manufactured in the company’s Tennessee facility, is available in several colors and features a natural stone look. “Large format really lends itself to the natural marble and stone looks while smaller sizes allow you to play with color and design,” said Paolo Mularoni, president.
Anatolia unveiled a new natural stone program that spoke to the growing luxury trend at Coverings 2022. “The resurgence of opulence is definitely bringing more attention to a unique and more premium collection of natural stones,” said Cengiz Elmaagacli, co-CEO, Anatolia. “It felt like the right time for us to reinvest in that category, and we’ve come up with a very extensive product offering that will be close to 300 SKUs.”
In addition to launching new product, Anatolia invested in its supply chain to better service its customer. “Just this week we concluded a purchase of our first vessel,” Elmaagacli said. “We’re confident about the future. We really see the known challenges in the industry, globally, as opportunities. We continue to tackle them head on, make whatever investments that need to be made to ensure that we stay, hopefully, two steps ahead and continue to provide better value to our customers.”
Portobello America’s new introductions at Coverings 2022 represented several trends currently driving the market, including luxury through large format as well as indoor/outdoor. At the show, the company unveiled its large-format porcelain 63 x 63 tile as well as its Terralma line, which utilizes nature-inspired color trends and can be used indoors and out. “I think a lot of [what drives the indoor/outdoor trend] truly stems from COVID-19,” said Ian Kingsley, regional sales manager – Western USA. “If you look at fashion, historically, any time we’ve come out of a period of confinement we typically start to see a little bit more opulence. Along with that, we start to see more connection with nature, so people that have been confined inside for so long now want to invest in the outside experience, the exterior experience, getting back into nature and then incorporating more dual-based tones and products.”
In addition to providing new tile lines that support current trends in the market, Portobello America recently broke ground on its first U.S. tile facility, located in Baxter, Tenn. The new manufacturing facility will not only be a major production venue it will also be the home of the company’s main office. The new factory’s overall initiative is expected to generate roughly 220 local jobs and annual revenue exceeding $100 million. The facility is expected be fully operational by March 2023.
DecoVita is also investing heavily in the American tile market with vast inventory stores ready to support its customer base. “We have about 5 million square feet right now in the U.S. and more coming, so we constantly have around 30 to 50 containers on the water,” said Tim Hanno, national director of strategic accounts. “We just put a new distribution center in Houston and that’s a little over 40,000 square feet with a small showroom in front, and that’s about 85% to 88% full right now. I think we’re probably 85%-90% stocked, which would cover most of our SKUs.”
DecoVita wowed at the show with luxury porcelain book match options in high-end stone looks at affordable prices—between $4-$5/square foot. “A book match in a stone like this could run you $10,000 or more,” Hanno said. “With this, anyone can afford something spectacular.”
Anthology also tapped luxury with its new introductions for Coverings 2022. Whether through the organic, molten glass looks of its Glassique collection, the mixed natural stone look of its Composition collection or the intricately designed mosaic nature of its Shimmer line, the company brought something for ever discerning taste.
Anthology’s sister brand, Walker Zanger, also unveiled new lines at show, with some connecting to the luxury trend as well. The Studio Marble Impressions glass collection, for example, emulates the look of Carrara marble in five classic, recycled glass mosaics, creating environmentally conscious designs while touting luxury and quality.
By Jacqueline Hinchcliffe—The flooring industry is witnessing a burst of color and bright, fresh patterns—such as contrasting art deco looks or crisp florals—in a wide arrange of hues. These were among the trends showcased at Coverings 2022, held here earlier this month.
The preeminent event for the ceramic tile and natural stone industry provided visual insight into what consumers will be seeing on their walls and underneath their feet this year.
Here are five trends:
Think creamy beige with a windswept texture or a cool gray tone made to resemble stone. Simple, neutral-toned tiles with clean, organic textures give a modern, streamlined look to any room and is projected to be a popular stylistic choice in 2022. Companies showcasing their own “organic texture” looks at Coverings opted for muted beiges, light grays and stark whites.
Earthy Jewel Tones
Emerald greens, aquamarines, dusty roses and rust tones pair perfectly with an existing interior space as an accent wall or to make a bold statement installed in a bathroom or kitchen floor. At Coverings, designers embraced this trend by weaving these featured colors into graphic or floral patterns or allowing the color to be the focal point in large-format tiles.
A recurring theme throughout the show was a resurgence of 80’s opulence as seen in the floor to ceiling marble trend. Creamy ivories with pearlescent accents or rich charcoals with gold, metallic veining pay homage to the lux look and feel of vintage 80’s decor made popular by Italian designers such as Versace.
While bold and bright colors make quite the statement when incorporated into an interior space, large- (or small) scale geometric designs can do the same, even in muted neutrals. Designers utilized these trending geometric shapes and patterns by displaying salmon pink and cinnamon hued art deco wall arches; also shown was a classic take on a black and white kitchen backsplash redesigned in a more faded color palette featuring various-sized ovals in place of the typical black and white squares.
While a floral trend seems to pop up every spring, tile suppliers at Coverings were bringing a new approach by mixing different finishes, contrasting colors and producing large slabs that can be fitted together to resemble wallpaper. This unique take on a familiar trend creates a homey and eclectic feel to one’s space and brings in pops of color and pattern to an otherwise simple, neutral room.